On Monday night there was a meeting at City Hall between the neighbors surrounding 2 St. James Court, just north off Wellesley Street East at Wellesley Avenue and the owners of the property, Mr. and Mrs. "Nasty" Norm Rogers (not my name for him but from others with past dealings, where he has enjoyed making other neighbors lives hell...Google his name). A notice was sent out by a Land Use Consultant hired by Mr. Rogers and encouraged (supposedly) by Buildings and Heritage however neither they, nor the Alderman, Pam McConnell or any of her staff were in attendance.
Over 8 years ago the Rogers bought a small one bedroom coach house on a very small lot in a back alley that was protected under the Heritage designation that is in the area. When they could not get the approvals that they needed to build a large two bedroom plus home with a garage, they allowed the existing home to fall to pieces so that the project was no longer Heritage but would now be considered to be "New Construction".
The Rogers started to build a structure made of concrete and rebar with a concrete and rebar "fence" and a concrete and rebar Garden Shed at the rear. After 8 years of intimidating the neighbors (last spring they brought in a gang of pot-smoking Bikers to work construction on the site), they were closed down by the City Building Department when it was found that they had again overstepped what was allowed. Suggestions have been made that the Survey was altered...
The Land Use Consultant had probably drank the Kool-Aid provided for her by the Rogers and at times seemed shocked by what she learned from the neighbors and Mr. Rogers when questioned. It turns out that Mr. Rogers felt that it was necessary to build a foundation that went under the house to a depth of 8 feet and then filled it in with dirt even though it has (as one neighbor noted) walls, doors and electric plugs in the walls.
It was also very easily noted from the plans that the "garage" that was part of the house, could easily be altered to be included in the gross floor area.
The Rogers at last threatened the group that because this was now considered by the City to be "New Construction", if the neighbors did not approve a two storey addition over the parking garage, that a third Storey would then be built at the front of the house. Please note that although many options were laid out to the Land Use Consultant by the neighbors, they were refused by Mr. Rogers who insisted on having two large bedrooms and a built-in garage. Please not that in the area only 10% of the houses have a garage and maybe another 50-60% actually have parking.
So where are we today.
No solutions were achieved. The City has not done it's job and protected the surrounding owners from someone who has made their lives miserable for over 8 years. The neighbors have lost privacy, spent thousands on repairs caused by shoddy workmanship, and have lost the value inherent in their properties....because the City is intimidated by a Bully. Every citizen should be concerned that the City of Toronto and Pam McConnell's Office has done little to protect tax paying citizens. The City is abrogating responsibility. It has and will continue to cost these neighbors thousands of dollars as well the peace and quiet that they deserve. They should not have to fight this fight! Is the neighbors only option to sue the City for not protecting their properties? (If these new plans move ahead the neighbors and the neighborhood will have in their midst a building not dissimilar from the one turned down 8 years ago by the Committee of Adjustment and the Ontario Municipal Board).
I encourage any reader to contact Pam McConnell's office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-392-7916 and voice your displeasure and concern. Please copy the Mayor and anyone you might know at City Hall.
Citizens of Toronto: This could happen to you! Make your feelings known!
Here is an article earlier this year by Susan Pigg of the Toronto Star.